A Day of Poetry
2012 / Nathan Speir
Review by Kathy Parsons
A Day of Poetry is pianist/composer Nathan Speir’s sixth album, but a first for me. Also a visual artist, Speir’s music tends toward darker tones and shadings, and is most often on the ambient side. Some of the nine pieces are solo piano and others are piano accompanied by synth strings; three are two-piano duets with the parts recorded separately and mixed together. My ears aren’t often fooled by electronic instruments, but Speir did an excellent job of making these instruments sound like the real thing - including the piano itself. Although the music is on the darker side, it is not at all mournful or despairing. It is introspective, reflective and heartfelt, allowing us to get a glimpse into the artist’s expressive soul. Speir began playing the piano at the age of eight and wrote his first piece at twelve. He went on to earn his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Theory and Composition in 2004 from Palm Beach Atlantic University. Previous recordings have included solo piano, electronic with piano, and an ambient Christmas album. A Day of Poetry is an exceptional listening experience - either with full attention or in the background. Fans of ambient piano and chamber music would do well to check this one out!
The soft and dreamy two-piano duet “Morning Duo” begins the album gently and with a cozy warmth. “A Little Sanctuary” introduces cello and violin with the piano, creating a peaceful ambiance that is soothing and restful. As the title suggests, “A Stream of Thought” flows where it will, unrestricted and undefined. That isn’t to say that the music rambles or makes no sense - in Speir’s very capable hands (and mind), it’s a very beautiful and fascinating piece. “Photopositive” is another of the piano duets and has a somewhat livelier rhythm on one piano while the second part is much more spare and free-form - a favorite. “Shades of Hue” is a gorgeous ambient chamber piece for piano, cello, and violin. With a full palette of rich but muted sonic colors, it expresses a wide range of emotions that easily flow from one to another. I love “Mysterious Perspectives,” another ambient chamber piece that this time stays very dark for its almost nine-minute duration. Piano and cello create feelings of suspense and intrigue without danger or fear - extremely effective! “Legend of the Pelican” is another favorite. Graceful and almost melodic, piano and strings tell a story without words that is compelling and from the heart.
A Day of Poetry is a very beautiful and evocative album, and I look forward to hearing more of Nathan Speir’s music! It is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!
April 27, 2014